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NRL coach compares former Catalans Dragons star to Billy Slater in ‘overlooked’ area of the game

Slater World Cup

Whilst rugby league is one of the most physical sports that exists it’s also a game that requires great mental strength, be it the mentality to give it 100% in a training session or having the calmness to kick a game-winning conversion from the sidelines and that’s something Manly coach Anthony Seibold has highlighted for his upcoming campaign.

Seibold is back in rugby league now after having coached with the English rugby union too, something he also spoke about when talking to James Graham on Graham’s podcast, The Bye Round.

The former England assistant coach and Hull KR captain is now with Manly Sea Eagles and has taken over in the midst of the pride jersey controversy, putting a focus on uniting his squad and also ensuring they are mentally strong as well.

“I think the mental game is where teams get an advantage, I think most teams physically have got it nailed. We know what the demands of the game look like from a physical point of view. All 17 teams can prepare as good as they can there,” Seibold told Graham.

The Sea Eagles finished fourth in 2021 but lost their last seven games in 2022 to crash out of playoff contention and Seibold has explained how the side will tackle 2023, and what he’s added to their training to ensure success.

Graham asked about gaining advantages in a salary cap sport, rugby league not being like football where teams can simply outspend their opponents, and Seibold responded in kind.

“There’s a couple of areas that teams can get a competitive advantage, one is that togetherness and belonging and the other one is mental skills. I think that’s the area that has been only really looked at in the last four or five years.

“It’s not an add-on or something we’ll do once or twice. Come January it is a dedicated part of our programme that is as important as our gym or field session.”

Seibold explained that Manly have hired a specific person to be their advisor and help with these mentality sessions, likening the misplacing of a pass to errors in other sports in that they’re inevitable but ultimately something that needed to be forgotten, and he referenced a former Super League player who was brilliant at doing that.

“How we handle mistakes is potentially the difference between winning and losing. If you don’t get to your next job and are still dwelling on something you’ve done wrong then you’re not helping the team.

“I think in a game you need to let your divots go and move on to the next job and not to dwell too long. The player that always comes to mind was James Maloney, it was almost like a goldfish mentality when he had a poor pass. Billy Slater was also like that, if he made an error he wouldn’t dwell on it and that’s what made him elite.”

Slater won the World Cup and NRL twice playing all of his career with Melbourne Storm, where Maloney also came through, and whilst Maloney hasn’t had the global impact on the sport that Slater had he impressed during his time in the Super League with Catalans.

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